Infringing into infrastructure

The main civic agency, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), on which the onus lies to ensure safety of the pedestrians, seems to have turned a blind eye towards the gross misuse of footpaths across the City. More than half of the pavements in the City are either unfit for use or have been fully encroached upon.

Take the case of footpaths in and around K R Market. The shopkeepers use the pavement to display their products leaving no space for pedestrians. People are compelled therefore to walk on the road and often meet with accidents.Similar is the situation in Majestic area where petty vendors occupy the pavements completely. Near Banashankari, the pavements are fully under the control of timber workers and potters.

A few yards away from Banashankari towards Kadirenahalli, the pavements serve as urinals. At Ilyas Nagar, the uneven surface of flagstones keep pedestrians away. The condition of the footpaths across Bangalore is no different. This is happening despite strict instructions by the successive BBMP commissioners to clear the pavements from encroachment and develop them in a scientific manner. The Palike is yet to  a learn lesson from the two accidents that occurred last year when children were swept away in stormwater drains after they fell through a gap in the stone covering  on the drains.

According to the BBMP sources,  around Rs 100 crore were spent in the last two years in eight zones  on the maintenance of the pavements but the money seems to have gone down the drain beneath the pavements. Further, the sky-walks and pedestrian subways, meant to help pedestrians, appear to have been built to serve the purposes of the advertisers and the contractors, if one went by the places they’ve come up.

The city has seven skywalks and two more are under construction. These are located at Kengeri, Mekhri Circle near CPRI, Seshadri Road near Maharani College, Kodihalli on (old) Airport Road, Indiranagar, Bishop Cotton School and Old Madras Road. The two under construction are near Chalukya Circle and K R Puram.

The Palike wanted to raise 53 more skywalks but litigation stopped the BBMP from going ahead with its programme. Now the High Court has cleared 13 skywalks and construction will begin soon. Traffic police officials admit that these skywalks have not come up where they are required the most. Palike officials handling the advertisement wing point out, however, that these structures are built free of cost. “We are spending nothing. The advertisers built them up on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis. They are paying us Rs 5 lakh per annum as tax. If they are not used today then five years later people will start using them,” said a BBMP official.

St Marks Road near the SBI Circle badly needs a skywalk but neither the BBMP nor any advertiser has come up with any proposal for one. The pedestrian subways built by the BBMP with an estimated cost of about Rs 20 lakh each are another side of the story.
Some of them have come up at places where people could hardly use them. On Nrupathunga Road near KR Circle, the subway is the biggest road block that invites road accidents. Hardly anyone has seen people using a subway near Chalukya Hotel on Raj Bhavan Road. Many the subways remain locked because they blame hub of anti-social elements.

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